Published Online: March 17, 1999
Published in Print: March 17, 1999, as Philanthropy



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Scholarship Woes: Since word got out that 51 of America's best and brightest students had lost out on promised college-scholarship money, business leaders and philanthropists from Alaska to North Carolina have responded with donations that include money and computers.

The contributions have brought relief to students who found that Val Adams, the founder of the Houston-based AdamsVision Inc., could not deliver on his promise of renewable, $10,000 merit scholarships. Mr. Adams' marketing and promotions company notified the students' colleges earlier this winter that AdamsVision would be unable to pay the money it had pledged. The company had intended to raise the money through a business venture that failed. ("Philanthropist Reneges on College Scholarships," Feb. 24, 1999.)

Because the company reneged, students feared they would have to drop out of college or transfer to less expensive schools.

But at least some help has arrived. A businessman from Hawaii whose daughter died while in college pledged $1,300 to a scholarship winner who attends his daughter's former school. Administrators at Long Island University's C.W. Post Campus have offered a full scholarship to any of the students if they transfer to the campus. And for its part, the Seattle-based Microworkz Computer Corp. gave personal computers to every student.

"It is truly gratifying to know that there are people out there that care," said Justin Burt, a Uvalde, Texas, freshman who is studying chemical engineering at the University of Notre Dame. "They're heroes in my book."

Mr. Burt received the most substantial contribution--$40,000 from former Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe and $40,000 from the H.E. Butt Grocery Co., based in San Antonio--double the amount he needs.

"We saw the article in the newspaper, and we felt really bad for the guy," said Greg Flores, a spokesman for H.E. Butt. "We thought he was really deserving."

While the students and their families are thankful for the gifts, some are still in need, said Melissa Bowlin of Palmer, Alaska, who is now a freshman biology major at Cornell University. Though she received $1,000 from an anonymous donor, she said she may be forced to leave Cornell, where her tuition costs more than $22,000 a year.

"It means a lot to me that someone would do something like that," she said. "Between the loans and savings, we can probably cover next year--but beyond that we're worried."

But her family is still hoping to find a solution. Parents of the scholarship winners have put together a petition asking the Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based retail giant Sears, Roebuck and Co. for aid.

--Julie Blair

Vol. 18, Issue 27, Page 13

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